Over 2 billion people log into YouTube per month; this is an audience less than Facebook’s 2.74b, which is the highest. However, when we remember that we can access YouTube without creating an account, we can do nothing but wonder if “2 billion” is scratching the surface.
With such a wide audience, none can deny that YouTube is a powerhouse to reckon with.
With over a billion hours of videos being watched a day, it is not only normal but expected that YouTube should occasionally run into a few glitches. The YouTube playback error is one of them.
No matter how awesome YouTube has served us, we aren’t ready to deal with issues like this, especially when we are in haste; as I often say, I am patient with people but not too patient with my gadgets.
So, if you’ve ever encountered a playback error on YouTube, keep reading to find out how to deal with this menace.
What does playback error mean?
Playback error is a type of error peculiar to videos. It often occurs when there’s an issue with the video or the device the video is playing on. It could also be due to unsupported codec packs, poor drivers, incompatible devices, and much more.
On YouTube, a collection of things could be responsible for this, which you would see below.
Playback error (in YouTube) means YouTube cannot play the video in question at the moment. While this is often temporary with a wide range of solutions, there’s still a rare possibility of you being unable to tackle it.
However, we wouldn’t give up without a fight. Below are possible causes of this annoying error.
Why is YouTube showing an error occurred?
Below is possible reasons you are experiencing the dreaded “YouTube playback not working” error message.
1. Poor internet connection
Your internet connection can ruin your experience when dealing with any online services. Unlike online games, YouTube needs just 500kbps to have an awesome streaming time, compared to online games, which need at least 3Mbps (with 15 – 20 Mbps as the best gaming speed).
Nevertheless, our ISPs could mess things up by giving us a connection speed that’s way lower than 500kbps. If YouTube can’t get enough resources on your end to give a seamless video play, you may likely run into this error.
2. Incompatible device
Although there’s almost no device these days that can’t stream YouTube videos, however, there are some scenarios where we can’t influence. Most copyright owners don’t allow their videos to be shown on mobile devices.
You are likely to see an error message telling you that your device isn’t compatible. This isn’t directly a cause of the YouTube playback error, but it is somewhat similar.
3. YouTube server issues
They see a massive amount of traffic every time of the day; it is normal for their servers to get overloaded. This is often temporal cause there are always technicians ready to resolve this issue. If you encounter a playback error on YouTube, there’s a possibility that the YouTube servers are overloaded.
4. Browser issues
Suppose you prefer accessing YouTube through its web version. In that case, you may likely be having this error due to your browser. Often, some add-ons or plug-ins could be responsible for these issues.
5. Poor video upload
Most times, the video could be responsible for this. Suppose the content creator had uploaded a poorly encoded video or hadn’t completely uploaded it. In that case, you could experience the YouTube playback error.
Ways to fix YouTube playback error
1. Check your internet speed
Your internet connection could be the reason for this error. Like I stipulated up there, YouTube needs an internet speed of at least 500Kbps. So, the first resolution should be checking how fast your internet connection is.
You can try accessing other sites or other online apps to confirm if the issue is peculiar to YouTube alone. Some sites like Speed Test can help check your internet speed. If your internet is poor, consider switching the network source.
2. Refresh the video
A simple refresh could save you stress. If you access YouTube from your web browser, you can use the refresh button, often on the address bar, move your system cursor there and click once.
If you are watching YouTube with the mobile app, memorize the video name and other details that will help you easily identify it, close the video, search for it again and play it. If this doesn’t work, go to the next solution.
3. Close re-open the browser or app
This is almost similar to the solution above. If you don’t have the YouTube link to that video, copy it down or memories the video name and other details. Now, close the whole browser or mobile app, restart them and try accessing the video again.
If you have other tabs open you won’t love to lose, you can close the video’s tab then re-open it with Ctrl/Command + Shift + T on Mac or Windows PC. While on your mobile browser, you can go through your recent history and select the video’s history.
4. Update your app
In the bid to try everything possible, you should consider updating your YouTube app. Updates are an integral part of technology. Some apps have bugs or develop some errors that need fixing. Other times these updates bring new features and new designs that may help out.
Visit your Google Play store on Android or Apple app store on iOS, use the search box to find the YouTube app. In its window, search for and click the big, bold Update button. If you can’t find any update button, you are likely using the latest version. Most app stores give you the option to auto-update apps.
5. Sign-out of YouTube
Your Google account covers all of Google’s services, including YouTube, Gmail, Google Drive, Google Hangout, and much more.
It has too much data to keep track of; most times, an error could occur in synchronizing this service’s data with your Google Account, which could cause the dreaded YouTube playback error. The simple solution here is to sign out of your account by following these steps.
Sign out from the mobile app
- Step 1: Open your YouTube app on your mobile device
- Step 2: Tap on the profile icon at the upper right corner of your screen.
- Step 3: Locate and click the sign out button.
Now, these steps are mainly for the iOS mobile app. If you access YouTube with Android or Chrome, signing out of YouTube is only possible when you completely sign out of your Android device or Chrome browser.
6. Restart your network
If you are connecting to YouTube with your WiFi router, you should try restarting it. Press the power button or turn the switch off and wait for a while; about 10 seconds. Then power it on. If you connect with any other means, temporarily disconnect it, delete the network, and reconnect again, then check if the problem persists.
7. Uninstall and Reinstall YouTube
Most times uninstalling and reinstalling could do the job. Open your device Settings, select the Apps option, locate and click on the YouTube app, tap the Uninstall button, visit your app store, search for YouTube and download its newer version.
On Android, YouTube is a system app; you can only uninstall its update following the steps above. When done, visit the app store and install the latest update.
8. Reduce the video resolution
One of the ways to fix YouTube playback errors is by reducing the video resolution. This method somehow complements the internet speed solution. The higher the video quality, the faster the internet speed should be. If you feel your network isn’t compatible enough, you should consider reducing the video quality.
In the video screen, locate and click the gear icon. Videos quality often range from 144p to 1080p (also known as High Definition; HD). You can start by selecting the lowest video quality. If the playback error vanishes, you can start increasing the quality periodically while checking to see if the error pops up.
9. Clear cache and cookies
Another remedy is to clear your browser’s cache and cookie files. These files generally have good purposes; however, they may conflict with YouTube, often leading to the playback error. These steps are for the Chrome browser.
- Step 1: If you aren’t already in, re-open the web browser you use to access YouTube.
- Step 2: Click on the menu button. It is often at the top right corner and is represented by three vertical dots.
- Step 3: From the drop-down menu, locate and select History.
- Step 4: In the history tab, click on Clear browsing data. Often a window pops up.
- Step 5: Chrome gives you different modes; you can pick the Basic or Advanced, we will be using the basic mode. Select a Time range; the 24 hours option is ideal; you can still pick any other option you like. Ensure that the boxes beside Cookies and other site data, as well as Cached images and files, are ticked.
Step 6: Click on Clear data. Allow a few seconds for the data to clear.
There’s a catch here; cookies and cache are files that help speed up your activities on your web browser, amongst many other things. Websites you frequently visit create and store them on your browsers; they are quite integral for your internet activities’ smooth running, especially on these sites.
When you clear your cache files, there’s a possibility of losing your login access to most sites; this will require you to refill your login details again. This method works for most people.
10. Change browsers
The reason for the playback error on YouTube could be due to the browser you are using. Google owns Google Chrome, and it’s a popular fact that YouTube work bests on it. However, other browsers like Safari, Edge, Firefox, Opera, and much more can still access YouTube seamlessly.
Again, years back, allegations were thrown at Google accusing them of purposely changing things on their sites that severely affected other non-chromium browsers. It also has the habit of breaking other rival web browsers with an irrelevant playback error.
11. Update your Router’s firmware
A considerable amount of iPhone users claim that updating their router firmware has done the job, so we should give it a shot. Updating the router’s firmware varies by your router’s model. Check your model or reach out to its customer care for directions on what to do.
12. Disable hardware acceleration
Another possible fix is by disabling your hardware acceleration. Follow the steps below.
- Step 1: Move your cursor to the green screen and right-click on it.
- Step 2: Click on Settings a side menu pops open.
- Step 3: Locate Enable hardware acceleration and untick the box or toggle it off.
13. Turn off Adblocker
Not too long ago, a famous Chrome extension, AdBlock, was responsible for the dreaded YouTube playback issue on most chromium browsers like Google Chrome and Brave browser. Even Microsoft Edge experienced this.
The report was that there was a conflict between the AdBlock Plus extension and Microsoft Edge. It would be best if you temporarily disabled it. You can also search online to be sure there’s no new extension causing YouTube headaches.
14. Download YouTube video
In most locations, YouTube gives the option to download videos and see them offline. If you can find a download button, click on it, switch off your network connection, and try viewing it.
Alternatively, the are online services that can help you download YouTube videos. It would be best to carry out a little research before you go with this method as the may be copyright implications.
15. Check your browser
There are some system requirements that you need to meet to use YouTube effectively. It would be best if you had the latest browser and up-to-date version.
Check if your browser has HTML 5 enabled. By default, all up-to-date browsers have this enabled, but you can check this site to see how well your browser supports HTML 5.
16. Restart your device
You can restart your device to see if the error persists. A simple restart has been renowned for solving annoying issues like this. Locate the power button/menu on your device and restart it.
17. Check if Google servers are down
This is very rare, but it is a possible reason. A few months ago, the was a serious downtime that affected not just YouTube but Gmail too. If you’ve tried every solution here and still can’t resolve the issue, you should check if Google (YouTube) servers are down.
You can visit this site to see if there’s any worldwide outrage.
Also, try reaching out to friends or neighbors around if they are experiencing something similar. Lastly, visit Twitter. Almost everything that happens around the world trends there. If, by chance, this happens to be why you should have a little patience and allow the YouTube team to rectify it.
Q. How do I get rid of the Playback error on YouTube
There are different ways to go about this; you can check your internet speed, refresh the video, update your YouTube app, temporarily sign out of your Google account, restart your network connection, uninstall and reinstall the YouTube mobile app, reduce the video resolution, clear your browser’s cache and cookie files, temporarily switch browsers,
update your router’s firmware, disable hardware acceleration, turn off AdBlocker or any other faulty extension, download the YouTube video, check if your browser is compatible with the latest system requirements, reboot or restart your device and finally check if it is only you experiencing it.
Finally, if you can’t still get it to work, you can report an error to the YouTube team by following these steps;
Step 1: Sign in to your YouTube account. You can do this from your browser or the mobile app.
Step 2: Click on your profile picture, then select Help and feedback.
Step 3: On the next window, click on Send feedback. YouTube gives you a text box. You can also send a screenshot; they automatically take it.
So report the issue with the playback error being visible. It also sends your log files to the YouTube team.
Step 4: Click on Send.
The YouTube playback error is quite annoying. We aren’t always responsible for this error, as it could be from YouTube’s end. In this article, we documented 17 different ways to tackle this issue. We later showed you how to reach out to YouTube to lay your complaint. Thank you for stopping by; drop your comments below.